If you’re looking to power up your email marketing, this ConvertKit review will help you decide whether ConvertKit is the right solution to help you do it.
As well as giving you all the essential tools for building and maintaining an email list (including communicating regularly and effectively with that list), ConvertKit also gives you marketing automation features to take things to the next level.
Don’t worry if marketing automation is a term that makes your eyes glaze over. I’ll explain what it means shortly.
My Experience: Why Listen to Me?
The first thing I should make clear is that I’m a paying ConvertKit customer. I use it on this site and others. If you have a dig around here, you’ll find the sign-up forms I use to add to my list of around 10,000 email subscribers.
I have plenty of experience with different email marketing tools such as Mailchimp and Aweber. I actually migrated from Aweber to ConvertKit after becoming dissatisfied with the former. I explain a little more about that later in this review.
In summary, this is an impartial review, based on actual real-life use of ConvertKit. Beware of other reviews of ConvertKit from people who’ve done nothing more than play around with the free version!
My Approach to this ConvertKit Review
Just before we start, a word on my approach:
Reviews of email marketing software are a mixed bag. Some go for a heavily technical approach, which is great if you’re a techie. They’re not so good if you’re setting up your first email list and unfamiliar with lots of terms and acronyms.
I’ve tried to take the middle ground with this ConvertKit review. Whether you’re a novice, or somebody with an existing email list that you’re looking to take to the next level, you should find what you need to help you make a decision.
Let’s start at the very beginning:
What is ConvertKit?
ConvertKit is a cloud-based email marketing software solution. It’s renowned for its (relative) ease of use and inclusion of email marketing automation features.
ConvertKit makes it easy to create sign-up forms, landing pages, newsletters and email broadcasts. It’s ideal for bloggers and small business owners who are keen to build their own list and run email marketing campaigns.
Why Do You Need Email Marketing Software?
There’s a well-worn cliché in the world of online marketing: “The money’s in the list.”
It’s a cliché because it’s true. If you have a customer’s (or reader’s) email address, and permission to contact them, that’s something you OWN. You can send offers and promotions, and keep in regular contact with your target audience.
Contrast this to traffic your small business might get from Google. You DON’T own that. If Google’s algorithm decides to push you down the rankings, there’s little you can do it. But nobody can take your email subscribers away from you (unless they unsubscribe!)
I coach and advise lots of aspire bloggers and small business owners, and an email marketing tool is one of the first things I advise them to buy. It makes absolutely no sense to wait to collect subscribers.
I started blogging over ten years ago, and – like many – made that mistake in the early days. Every single person who visits your site could potentially become one of your email subscribers. Choosing an email marketing service isn’t something to delay on.
With the above firmly in mind, here’s the good news:
ConvertKit is free for up to 1000 subscribers. Better still, the free version is more than adequate for doing basic email marketing: collecting subscribers, offering them sign-up incentives, and staying in regular contact using broadcast emails.
I should, however, mention that you don’t get the marketing automation features with free version of ConvertKit. I explain a lot more about these in a moment, but they’re very useful if you want to do things like send out a set, timed sequence of emails to new subscribers or offer a free email course.
Once you get into the paid versions of ConvertKit, the pricing begins at $29 per month (or $25 per month if you pay annually). It’s very common for cloud-based software providers to offer a discount for annual payment. As I say in almost every software review I write, it does make sense to go for annual payment if you can afford it.
The “Creator” pricing tier adds the visual automation features mentioned above, as well as help with migrating from another provider. “Creator Pro” adds more advanced reporting features, comprehensive Facebook integration and more. For what it’s worth, the cheaper “Creator” option is adequate for me, and I suspect it is for the vast majority of small businesses.
ConvertKit Pricing by Subscribers
Practically every email marketing service tiers its pricing based on your number of subscribers. There’s a slider on the ConvertKit website that shows you the exact pricing.
To give you a sense of how the price increases, here are some examples:
- Up to 5000 subscribers: $79 per month for “Creator,” $111 for “Creator Pro.”
- Up to 8000 subscribers: $99 per month for “Creator,” $139 for “Creator Pro.”
- Up to 10,000 subscribers: $119 per month for “Creator,” $167 for “Creator Pro.”
- Up to 20,000 subscribers: $179 per month for “Creator,” $251 for “Creator Pro.”
- Up to 55,000 subscribers: $379 per month for “Creator,” $519 for “Creator Pro.”
In all cases, with an annual subscription you get two free months in every 12, reducing the overall “per month” cost.
Is ConvertKit Good Value?
ConvertKit’s pricing is average among good quality email marketing platforms. You do get a generous amount for free while you’re building up your first 1000 subscribers.
There are cheaper options out there – and more expensive ones too! One big plus with ConvertKit is that you only pay for each of your subscribers once. Some others, including Aweber, charge again if a subscriber appears on multiple lists.
How Does ConvertKit Work?
ConvertKit’s functionality is all built around one or more lists of email subscribers. You build this list up by collecting addresses via sign-up forms, pop-ups and landing pages. (You can also import a list of existing subscribers or migrate from another platform – provided you’ve had express permission to email the people concerned).
Once you have your list(s), you can send one-off broadcast emails such as newsletters, or put your subscribers into fully automated email marketing campaigns. If you’re a paying subscriber, you can use email automation features to make campaigns and sequences that are as simple or as advanced as you wish.
You know how big retailers do clever things like email you to remind you of an offer you’ve been checking out on the website? ConvertKit provides the features to allow you to do all that as a small business. It’s powerful stuff.
ConvertKit Review: My Experiences
I’d already set up and used multiple accounts with ConvertKit before writing this review. I have my main account for this site and have also set up others for new ventures.
In this section of my ConvertKit review, I talk you through what’s involved in getting started with building up subscribers and sending out your first emails.
Signing up to ConvertKit is really easy, with just an email address and password. You do have to provide your website address so that the ConvertKit team can check it out.
It’s refreshing that you’re not immediately encouraged to provide credit card details and upgrade to a paid plan. The free version is a fully functional email marketing platform for up to 1000 subscribers.
ConvertKit Onboarding and Migration
Once you’re signed up, there’s plenty of hand-holding to help you understand the key features of ConvertKit and become clear on how you will use email marketing for your business.
Within each of the key sections of the ConvertKit dashboard, you find well-produced how-to videos. It makes a lot of sense to watch these to understand the principles and terminologies ConvertKit uses. These may differ from those you’re used to if you’ve come from a different email service.
If you’re starting completely from scratch, your first tasks will probably be to create your first form(s) and / or landing page(s). If you already have an email list, getting that into ConvertKit will likely be your first priority.
Migrating to ConvertKit
Migrating to ConvertKit is surprisingly simple. In fact, the process made me wish I’d had the confidence to get started sooner!
If you already have subscribers and you’re going onto a paid plan, you will have the offer of some migration assistance. This can range from a basic export and import from your previous email marketing service, to a full “white glove” migration of everything. This can even include landing page creation and migration of existing sign-up forms and email sequences.
Although the full service was available to me with my number of subscribers, I opted for just a basic import of my list. I figured I’d learn much more about how to use ConvertKit if I got my hands dirty myself. (The lead-times for a full-service migration were also a little longer than I wanted to wait).
My migration was flawless, and completed in the promised timeframe. As well as pulling in the subscribers themselves, ConvertKit’s team also, on my request, moved in their sign-up date so I could see how long people had been on my list for.
You can also handle importing subscribers yourself with an easy to use process. There are direct import tools for some email providers, or you can simply point ConvertKit at a CSV file. All you really need to worry about is ensuring that the fields marry up.
I used this method to import lists from a couple of my smaller sites, and it was simple and trouble-free. There’s some good documentation online to help you ensure you do it right.
Basic ConvertKit Principles
Before you start actively using ConvertKit, it makes sense to familiarise yourself with the basic principles. Understanding the terms helps you to get your head around the user experience. It also makes you quickly realise what an easy to use email service ConvertKit is and, gives you some inspiration around how to make the most of what’s on offer.
I decided to explain the terminologies here in my ConvertKit review, as it makes it much easier to lay out how it all works!
Forms are a place where people can sign up to your list. If you’re reading my ConvertKit review on a computer, you’ll see one on the right-hand sidebar of this site. Forms can also go within your content, appear as pop-ups, or sit at the top or bottom of your webpages.
Landing Pages are web pages specifically intended to promote your email list. You can host them on your own site or – as an interesting alternative – use ConvertKit servers. The latter option gives you a way to start to build an email list or promote an offer even if you don’t yet have a site of your own. For example, you could pay for adverts on social media and drive traffic to your landing page.
Incentives are freebies, such as eBooks, that you can automatically send to a new subscriber as a way to tempt them onto your list. The emails containing your incentives also, rather cleverly, act as a way to confirm new subscribers. (This is also known as a “double opt in.”)
Tags are labels you can give to each subscriber to help you categorise and organise them. Tags are key to how ConvertKit works and help you to create powerful automation sequences.
A couple of examples from my own site: I sell a course, and assign a “coursebuyers” tag to each email subscriber who buys it. I can then ensure that if I create an email to promote the course, I exclude the “coursebuyers,” so that I don’t annoy them by trying to sell them something they’ve already bought.
Similarly, say I’ve just added a new module to the course. I can then opt to send an email only to people with the “coursebuyers” tag. You can probably already see many powerful ways to use ConvertKit tags to interact with your own audience!
Segments are preset sub-lists of subscribers. Continuing the example above, I could create a segment of all of my course buyers, or make a list from a combination of different tags and factors. I have a segment for all of my UK subscribers, as another example.
Automations is where it all gets rather more complex but a lot more powerful. Thankfully, the user experience is great, and due to visual automations, it’s easy to keep track of what’s going on.
Here’s an example:
The screenshot above shows an automation I use on this site when a new subscriber fills a form and joins the mailing list. At the top, you can see each of my forms. People then enter a sequence of emails that introduce them to the site and point them to some of our best content.
Towards the end of the sequence, I introduce my freelancing course. People who purchase it have the “coursebuyers” tag added and leave the sequence. Readers also have the option of clicking a button in one of the emails to say that they are not interested in freelancing, so I don’t irritate them with emails about the course.
If you’re a member of my mailing list, you may have seen this email sequence in action!
Once you understand these principles, everything makes sense. Hopefully I’ve explained them well enough, and you’re already starting to see all the potential ways you could use ConvertKit for your own blog or small business.
Next, we’ll dive into a little more detail about each of the features and how you set them up.
Adding People to Your Email List
As I explained above, the main way to get people onto your list is via forms and landing pages. Creating them is very simple, using a drag and drop interface.
Once criticism of ConvertKit is that the range of forms is quite limited.
It IS, but to me the key thing is that they’re all simple and attractive. I don’t believe in form over function, nor do I want to spend hours designing sign-up forms.
There’s a small selection of basic templates. You use these as the foundation of each form, then change text, images, backgrounds etc. using the drag and drop interface.
What you can change is fairly rudimentary. While I appreciate the simplicity, I was surprised that changing a font to match my site theme required me to dig into the documentation and enter a line of CSS code.
It’s clear that a firm decision has been made that less is more here. The same applies to the email templates themselves, as we will discuss in a moment. How you feel about this will dictate whether you appreciate the lean simplicity or go running to look at ConvertKit alternatives.
Essentially, the question is this: do you want to get an attractive form up quickly and simply, or do you want to spend hours tweaking its appearance in fine detail?
Aside from the look and feel of each form, you can adjust settings such as configuring an automated email to go to anybody who subscribes using it. This can include the dispatch of an “incentive” such as a downloadable PDF.
Once the form is complete, you visit the “Embed” tab, where you have various options for making the form appear on your site. I personally just copy the code, but there’s also the option of using a ConvertKit WordPress plugin for those not comfortable with stuff like that.
The process for creating a landing page is much the same. However, there are far more landing page template options.
The editor is the same, and you can set up your incentives and automated sign-up emails, just as you would with a form. If you decide to host landing pages with ConvertKit, you also have options to integrate with Pinterest, Facebook and Google Analytics.
Sending Email Broadcasts
We’ve dealt with how to use ConvertKit to get people onto your list – via forms and landing pages, and by importing lists of subscribers.
Now onto the next thing: actually sending emails to your loyal subscribers!
The simplest (and non-automated) way is by sending broadcasts. You can send these on the paid plan, AND the free option for up to 1,000 subscribers.
I use broadcasts to send out my weekly newsletters. Here’s the basic process:
- Start a new broadcast.
- Select who to send it to – this can be my entire list, or a subsection defined using a choice of tags and segments.
- Create the contents of the email using the email editor (see below).
- Check the email by sending a sample copy to myself.
- Send the email out – either immediately, or at a scheduled time I define.
It’s VERY easy to use, and there’s no need for technical knowledge. There are a few more fancy things you can do:
Extra ConvertKit Features
Use Email Templates: Since I like to send out my newsletters with the same design each time, I use email templates that already have my chosen font, logo and page setup in place.
A B Test Your Broadcasts: ConvertKit has a useful – albeit quite basic – built-in way to “A/B test” your emails, based on trying a different subject line. You choose two different subject lines and the system tries each on 15% of your audience.
Four hours later, ConvertKit automatically analyses the statistics – open rate and click rate – and sends the more successful subject line version to the remaining 70% of your list.
Broadcast Resend Feature: ConvertKit also has a really useful feature called “Resend to Unopens.” At any time after sending a broadcast, you have the option to have another punt at sending it to people who’ve not opened it yet.
The feature is best used sparingly. I don’t routinely send emails to people twice. But if you have something you’re particularly keen to share, it’s invaluable. You can also edit the email you send out the second time if you wish to tweak it, or acknowledge that it’s a resend.
The Email Editor
ConvertKit’s email editor is like the one for forms and landing pages – simple but effective.
You can add text, do some basic formatting, and add images, lines, dividers, buttons, and a few other things. The buttons are something I’m a fan of – they’re simple but attractive, and a great example of ConvertKit’s “less is more” approach.
Once again, this approach will divide people. Those expecting to be able to style their emails with a huge dashboard of tools will be very disappointed.
ConvertKit is very clear on the approach here: the company believes that people prefer to receive simple emails – as close to plain text as possible – and data does seem to support this theory. It’s certainly no problem for me, and allows me to keep my own newsletters simple but attractive. I’ve certainly never wished I could do something more complicated.
Where the edit screen does fall down is in a couple of more mundane areas. Sometimes it seems to flatly refuse to centre an element, and sometimes it pastes a full link over the text I’m trying to turn into a link.
These are VERY minor things, but it wouldn’t be right not to mention them in an honest ConvertKit review.
Email Campaigns and Visual Automation
The ability to create visual automations is a huge selling point for ConvertKit. As I described above, it allows you to do the kind of clever stuff big companies do.
A well-designed automation can work on autopilot once you’ve set it up. If it leads to the sale of one of your products or affiliate offers, it can quite literally make you money while you sleep. This kind of functionality would have cost thousands not that long ago. (Note, however, that while ConvertKit is affordable, the automation doesn’t come with the free plan).
Where ConvertKit really excels is in making this automation power accessible and easy to use.
Earlier in this ConvertKit review, I mentioned how I use automation to send a sequence of emails to new subscribers. Let’s dive a little deeper into how that works.
In the screenshot above, you can see (some of) that sign-up sequence. Readers receive a set stream of emails, each delivered a few days apart. It’s simplicity itself to define when each email goes out. For example, you can decide to only send emails out on week-days, and decide how long to wait between each email.
One really clever feature is the ability to include links and buttons in the emails that automatically add tags to the subscriber.
Say you run a blog about barbecues. You could include buttons asking subscribers if they’re most interested in gas or coal grills, and then use the automation to push them onto a specific email sequence relevant to their specific interest.
Before using ConvertKit, I used Aweber, and it was kind of possible to do some of this. But ConvertKit’s visual automation makes it WAY easier. It’s so easy to use that once you’ve understood the principles, you can set up some really smart automations that you can just leave to work.
It’s also easy to tweak them. The screenshot below shows the performance of one of my sequences (or “funnels.”
I can identify from this that there are certain emails that are “less successful” – perhaps because fewer people open them or click links, or more people unsubscribe when they receive them. From there, you can go back and optimise them – changing subject lines to make them more compelling, or altering content that people may find off-putting.
I’ve really only scratched the surface of what you can do with automation in ConvertKit. However, it’s probably already very clear what kind of thing you could do yourself.
Most importantly, in my experience in always WORKS exactly how you’ve set it up. Sadly, with other email software, things have not always gone as planned. More on that at the end of the review!
Managing subscribers in ConvertKit is very simple. There’s a main subscriber view where you can see a list of everybody signed up. You can also see people who have unsubscribed or not clicked on their “opt in” email to confirm their subscription.
From the list, you can click into an individual subscriber for more data on them (or use the search facility to look somebody up – by email address or just with a string of text).
Once you’re looking at an individual subscriber’s data, you can see all kinds of information: Where they’re located, when they signed up and which form or landing page they used, which of your emails they’ve opened, and which links they’ve clicked on.
You can also see what tags they have, some of which they may have gained when clicking on specific links or buttons, as explained in the automation section above. You can also manually add tags to people in this section.
Open Rates and Deliverability
One thing that’s VERY important in email marketing is deliverability. Essentially this means being as sure as possible that when you want to send emails to your customers they will actually get them!
No email provider can guarantee deliverability. Sometimes, with the best will in the world, your emails will end up in a spam or junk filter.
I’ve put this to the test quite extensively with ConvertKit, because I have many different email accounts subscribed to my own lists. While some of my emails end up in junk or spam, it’s usually because of the content. Usually, my weekly newsletters find their directly to inboxes spanning various platforms, including Gmail and Office 365.
With that in mind, ConvertKit gets a big tick from me when it comes to deliverability.
One area I am a little disappointed with is the number of unconfirmed subscribers I end up with. What this means is that somebody has signed up on a form, but NOT confirmed their subscription by downloading an incentive freebie.
As you can see from the screenshot above, on some days I get a LOT of unconfirmed subscribers. This is always frustrating because it indicates that I was that close to having another person on my email list.
I’ve contacted ConvertKit support about this, but we’ve concluded that this is just the way it goes with email marketing. I do occasionally tweak the wording on the confirmation email in case it’s triggering certain spam filters, but this is hard to do in any particularly precise way.
ConvertKit Review: Reporting and Tracking
I’ve already referred to reporting and tracking at various points during this ConvertKit review where they’ve arisen naturally.
The quick way to sum up this section is that I’ve always found the information I want and need to be readily available. For example, when I send out a broadcast I can see my open and click rates – both as actual numbers and as percentages. I can then further drill down into who’s clicked what.
More advanced reporting comes with (the more expensive) ConvertKit Creator Pro. You can, for example, find out if you’re having deliverability issues with a specific email platform, such as Yahoo or Gmail. (In fact, I found out about that feature whilst writing my ConvertKit review, and find myself tempted to check it out – it could help with the unconfirmed subscriber issue I referenced above.)
I have noticed that some other reviews of ConvertKit criticise a lack of in-depth reports. I feel that what’s included is adequate for my needs, and ought to be for most bloggers and smaller businesses.
ConvertKit is an email platform that offers a wide range of integrations with other software solutions. For example, if – like me – you sell a course on Teachable, you can set things up so people who buy a course are automatically tagged as buyers.
Another ConvertKit integration I’ve used is one with Gleam, a competition platform. It was very easy to configure the two systems so that people who sign up to my email list automatically receive more entries to a giveaway draw.
The list of integrations is long, covering course platforms, eCommerce sites, webinar platforms, social media sites and much more. As with the automations, you can build something really complex if it suits your business model.
ConvertKit Support and Customer Service
ConvertKit does very well at presenting something that’s rather complex in an easy to use way.
However, email marketing is an area where you probably will need to talk to the support team at some point – if only to check you’ve done something right before you accidentally unleash the wrong email on the wrong subscribers!
Thankfully, ConvertKit’s customer service is strong. As a customer bringing in an existing 10,000 subscriber list, I was given a demo call and offered an on-boarding call as well.
There’s live chat, and I’ve been happy with the answers I’ve received. It’s worth noting that this works only during extended US office hours (8am to 8pm Eastern Time). At other times you send your question to a bot and get some suggested self-service resources while you wait for a human response.
One thing that will be an issue for some is an absence of any phone support.
All in all, ConvertKit’s support offering is strong. But the lack of any true 24/7 support and the inability to pick up the phone may be a deal-breaker for some users.
Creator Pro users (paying from $59 per month) get access to priority support “within 15 minutes.” But it’s still during those hours and not by phone.
Other ConvertKit Reviews
As part of putting together my own ConvertKit review, I took a look at what other people had to say.
ConvertKit reviews on “aggregate” sites are overwhelmingly positive. At the time of writing, the product has a 4.4 rating on G2, and 4.7 on Capterra.
This indicates that the product has a very happy userbase overall, allowing you to sign up with confidence if it sounds like ConvertKit does what you need it to.
ConvertKit Review: Conclusion
ConvertKit is a key part of my own website “tech stack.” It’s become the email marketing software that I recommend to everybody nowadays. That in itself is perhaps enough of a summary to my ConvertKit review!
But let’s dig a little deeper.
ConvertKit isn’t the most advanced email solution out there. It would be easy to criticise the lack of many form templates or the (relatively) limited reporting in the base-level version. But I think it would be reductive to do so.
It’s clear that ConvertKit was designed to put the functionality you need front and centre, without confusing you with unnecessary bells and whistles. The fact that you can do clever marketing automation with a really shallow learning curve is both commendable and, well, really rather cool.
For me, ConvertKit hits lots of sweet spots. It offers a free version with plenty of functionality to last until you hit 1,000 subscribers, great ease of use, and a lack of feature bloat. Since you can try it free, you have nothing to lose by doing so.
Pros and Cons of ConvertKit
For a full breakdown of ConvertKit pros and cons, refer to the summary table below this ConvertKit review.
ConvertKit is Perfect For:
- New and existing bloggers seeking a friendly and easy to use email marketing solution.
- Users of other email platforms like Aweber looking for a more modern alternative.
- Any small business owner keen to get started on an email list.
- Anybody looking for a free email marketing platform.
ConvertKit it NOT So Good For:
- Users who want or require advanced design options for forms and emails templates.
- Customers who need telephone or 24/7 tech support.
- Veteran internet marketers who want even more advanced automation features.
ConvertKit vs. Aweber vs. Mailchimp and Others
No ConvertKit review would be complete without a comparison of ConvertKit vs Aweber and other email solutions.
I’m in the best position to compare ConvertKit with Aweber, because that was the direct switch I made. So I’m going to end on a quick section about that.
I should point out that I was a happy Aweber customer until the day I became an angry and VERY unhappy Aweber customer!
I was launching the course I referenced above, and had a very carefully planned sequence of emails set up. As it was such an important launch, I’d checked every detail of the email campaign with Aweber support. They confirmed it was all set up correctly.
On the day I pushed the button, chaos ensued. My emails went out out of sequence, destroying the launch plan and making me look very silly to my readers.
Aweber’s support were very contrite and apologetic, phoning and emailing me personally to apologise. They confirmed a technical glitch and promised me a “team” of people were looking at it “urgently.”
The trouble was, after that my point of contact stopped responding, and I never received a sensible answer.
SO that was WHY I moved from Aweber to ConvertKit – but how do they actually compare?
The best analogy I can think of that it was like going from using a Windows 95 PC to a modern day Mac.
Aweber is…OK. At one point it was the market leader in all of this email marketing stuff. But it feels very much like the company rested on its laurels. Aweber now feels antiquated compared to ConvertKit.
Within hours of using ConvertKit I was doing more advanced things that I wouldn’t have dared to do with Aweber, especially given that their “glitch” had caused a very simple email sequence to go wrong!
Aweber has a very old-fashioned form designer and an interface that’s far from intuitive.
There are a couple of areas where it wins on a ConvertKit vs. Aweber comparison. There’s 24/7 support, and toll-free phone support during 8-8 hours. I also rather miss the feature that would “spam check” a broadcast in case I’d inadvertently included keywords that might land my email in junk.
But all in all, to me there’s no contest. I only wish I’d made the switch to ConvertKit much sooner. ConvertKit offers an easy to use email platform that feels ready for the 2020s – Aweber seems stuck a couple of decades back!
A simple, yet full-featured approach to email marketing
Ease of Use
A good email marketing system that's a joy to use.
ConvertKit is a perfectly-pitched email solution that combines ease of use with surprisingly advanced features. It’s also free for up to 1000 subscribers.
- A generous free version.
- A perfect learning curve.
- Simple to use automation.
- Attractive forms and landing pages.
- Good deliverability.
- Limited design options.
- A disappointing number of unconfirmed subscribers.
Founder of HomeWorkingClub.com – Ben has worked freelance for nearly 20 years. As well as being a freelance writer and blogger, he is also a technical consultant with Microsoft and Apple certifications. He loves supporting new home workers but is prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.